Neurologic Equine Herpes in NJ Horse Leads to Quarantines

Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy

New Jersey officials have quarantined horse facilities in Hunterdon and Somerset counties after a horse developed the highly infectious equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM).

EHM is the neurological form of the equine herpes virus (EHV-1).

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture quarantined the positive horse’s stable. No recent movement occurred at the farm where the virus originated.

Veterinarians began treating the EHM positive horse at a local equine hospital that was treating nine other horses. The state also quarantined the veterinarian facility after several horses became exposed to the EHM positive horse.

Seven horses are being moved to what the state calls a ‘remote facility’ for quarantine. Hospital staff is disinfecting the veterinarian facility.

No other horses are showing clinical signs of the disease, the state said in a press release.

EHV-1 spreads quickly and can cause respiratory problems, especially in young horses, spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares, and the neurologic form of the virus can result in death.

The incubation period of EHV-1 is typically 2 to 10 days.  Clinical signs include fever, nasal discharge, depression, cough, lack of appetite, and potentially enlarged lymph nodes.

Horses infected with the neurologic strain of EHV-1 show clinical signs that typically include mild incoordination, hind end weakness, and loss of bladder and tail function.

The virus spreads readily through direct contact with infected materials. Hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and sunlight neutralize the virus.

EHM is a reportable disease in New Jersey. This is the first reported case of the year, according to the state.